I traveled to   Barcelona with my friend Katie for 36 hours. We wanted to explore the famed city but also wanted to take advantage of an invitation by our sevillano friends to attend a barbeque on Saturday night. So, we committed to a whirlwind tour of one of Spain’s largest cities.    We left Sevilla on Thursday afternoon and arrived to Barcelona around 7 p.m. We quickly noted the signs in   Catalán, the language used in Barcelona. While the language sounds slightly similar to Spanish, it is very different and was difficult to understand. The airport in Barcelona is ginormous, especially in comparison to the one in Sevilla, and we were in awe of all of our favorite Spanish stores (Mango, Zara, etc.) in such close proximity to one another.  We resisted our desires to shop and headed toward our hostel/hotel, which was located near La Sagrada Familia, a church designed by Gaudi and where he is now buried. It is one of the most famous and popular attractions in Barcelona.    Once we got settled in, we walked over to La Sagrada Familia and went into a side chapel.  It was March 19th, the feast day of St. Joseph, so there were many people praying in front of the statue of St. Joseph. I gave a donation in honor of Nana, my paternal grandmother, whose birthday falls on the feast day and all my favorite Josephs.    After that, we were starving so we went to a nearby (very touristy) pizza restaurant to have a quick bite.  After bad service and small portions, we hungrily went exploring and happened upon a Mexican restaurant, about which I was ecstatic. I had shrimp ceviche, which was very good, and we shared chips, guacamole and salsa. We also got free tequila shots, which had become sort of a joke with my friends abroad because every time we would go out to dinner, we were offered (and usually would accept so as not to be rude) free tequila shots at the end of our meals. The restaurant also had place-mats with funny Spanish sayings on them that I thoroughly enjoyed. All in all, the ideal find.    After dinner, we returned to our hotel and were exhausted but knowing we only had two nights in Barcelona, we rallied, changed and headed out around 2 a.m. to experience the highly-reviewed Barcelona nightlife.  When we arrived to the club, there was a giant group of people trying to enter.  We got in line, proceeded to be squashed to the point of high incommode and finally, decided to leave.  We jumped in a cab and went to the beach clubs.  It was nearing 5 a.m. and after entering three different establishments, one of which was entirely empty and the other two full of older and very unique humans, we decided to return back to the hostel.    The next day we arose around 10 a.m., a bit later than desired but we were out the door by 11 a.m. We were once again on a quest for brunch, which we found at this quaint restaurant called Brunch & Cake. It was obviously created for students studying abroad who were craving the brunch atmosphere and cuisine but we didn’t care because the ambience was delicate and the food was delicious. I had a mixed greens salad with poached eggs and a panini with brie, savory strawberry jam and caramelized onions (light on the onion). I also had a mimosa because…brunch.    After the fabulous meal, we walked around the central part of the city. It actually reminded me a bit of Chicago but with wider streets – others compared it to Los Angeles. We wanted to encapsulate all the city had to offer, so we pulled the tourist card and did the hop on/hop off city tour bus. The city is so large and has so many interesting sites that there were two different routes we could take. We hopped on the first one we saw and started going. About halfway through, we realized we should have investigated a bit more and taken the other route, merely because it had more locations where we would have liked to hop off. However, we saw some very neat attractions such as the FC Barcelona Fútbol (soccer) Stadium, the 1992 Olympic torch and stadium and Casa Batlló, another one of Gaudi’s masterpieces.    After our bus tour, we walked down Las Ramblas, a lively street with lots of shops and restaurants. Along the popular street we found our by far most favorite part of the city, the Mercado de La Boquería / Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria (in Catalán) – a fresh food market.  We adventured through trying everything from fresh fruit juice to giant gummy candies to (more) Mexican food to fresh seafood and raw oysters to cheese to nuts and goji berries…the list could go on!    We were completely stuffed to the brim with delightful goodies from the market and made our way back to our hostel on the metro (we even had to change trains) to take a siesta. We woke up around 10:45 p.m., got dressed for the night and, on a recommendation from my fabulous quasi-Spanish friend Livi, made it to a fantastic restaurant, called Tapas 24, at 11:30 p.m. for dinner, just before the kitchen closed.  We had sangria and shared a variety of tapas. All were small in size – it may seem like we ate our weight in two days but remember, the portions are different. We enjoyed patatas bravas (potatoes with tomato sauce and aioli), a roasted beef dish with mushrooms, a bomba (like a rice ball minus the rice and plus a mashed potato type puree), pasta with various types of meat and mini pork tacos.  We also got a dessert, which is a rare occurrence for us. It consisted of three softly-rounded chocolates with olive oil and sea salt. It was very decadent.     After dinner, we went to a bar famous for its crazy chupitos (shots). The walls are lined with over 500 different shots to choose from, each with a unique twist – fire, gummies, pringles, etc. We did one called “the boyscout.”  The bartender made a shot and then proceeded to light the bar top on fire and hand us each a stick with a marshmallow on it.  We roasted the marshmallow over the open flame, dunked it in the shot, then swung it back. While it seemed like a bit of a fire hazard, it was an interesting and oh so fun experience.    From there we went to one of the most popular beach clubs in Barcelona called Opium.  It was down pouring rain and there was a long line but we still had entrance stamps (from the night before) so we flashed our wrists and they let us right in. It was a completely different atmosphere than the previous night. The place was jammed, the music was blasting, and the chandeliers were rocking. Mist from the sea could be felt on the patio. It was an insane and extreme discoteca. The night was especially fun because both Katie and I ran into friends school, further proving how small the world is in which we live.    We left the club around 5 a.m., returned to our hostel around 5:45 a.m. and had to be at the airport for our flight at 7:30 a.m.  Suffice it to say, the journey back to Sevilla was more than bit trying.    We arrived back in Sevilla around 10 a.m. and proceeded to sleep until about 5 p.m. Then, we rallied and left to attend a barbeque with our Spanish friends. We jumped in a taxi because we were dazed and confused from our Barcelona bender. It dropped us off at the abandoned Olympic stadium and drove away. After many calls to various Spaniards, we ended up finding the party...under a highway overpass.  The ambiance was a bit to be desired but all in all, a very fun, very Spanish afternoon and evening. It included grilled meat sandwiches cooked using incredibly unsanitary methods and lots and lots of dancing. It was the chocolate on the churro of a fast-paced Spanish weekend.
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